Burnett: Passing on a family gift heirloom and preparing for Old Man Winter

My granddaughter Ellie turned four this past week and it’s hard to fathom how fast time is passing.

I decided to pass on to her for a birthday gift the play barn my Grandpa Henderson made for me when I was that age.

I remember so well the hours of enjoyment it gave me complete with the wooden carved animals.

Of course, some of those wooden cows have little round dimples from using them for BB gun target practice in my teens, and there are a few broken legs but generally it’s in good shape.

I appreciate more than ever this childhood treasure lovingly made by my grandfather, so much so I was careful when restoring it to maintain the integrity of what he did.

If I replaced a door or piece of the roof, I used a piece of maple and left it unpainted, so it was a clear difference of what was old and what is new.

I also wrote the history of it and attached a picture of Grandpa Henderson inside. This way it can be passed down through the generations with its provenance intact.


Last week, I talked about the first snowfall of the season and typically it disappeared just as fast as it came.

We get a second chance to clean up the garden and put away our tools.

Get it done folks because the snow is sure to come again and this time in earnest.

One of the things I need to do each fall is put to bed any potted plant material that could freeze if left exposed; in particular my cactus collection.

Almost all of my cacti are hardy if planted in the ground.

But I’m afraid if the roots are not protected there could be a problem, so I simply bury the containers.

In case it gets stupid cold like -20 C or colder, I have a blanket ready to drape over them with little sticks to hold it up to prevent damage from the weight of it.


Anyone who has an automatic sprinkler system should have it winterized by now, but something often forgotten is the self-draining hose bibs with hoses still attached.

Self-draining taps are such that when turned off the water drains out to prevent freezing.

If the hose is left on, still filled with water, there is a chance the tap could freeze.

Simply remove the hose to prevent this from happening.

It is also a good idea to empty the hose itself just in case you may need to do some mid-winter watering under eaves or trees.

Do this by taking one end of the hose and elevate it by going up on a deck or simply a step ladder.

Keep pulling the hose up until the other end has left the ground and it will be empty.

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